Incyte has agreed to acquire Escient Pharmaceuticals and its two potential first-in-class oral Mas-related G protein-coupled receptor (MRGPR) antagonists in a deal worth over $750m.

Escient Pharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage drug discovery and development firm. It is focused on advancing novel small molecule therapeutics for systemic immune and neuro-immune conditions.

As part of the deal, the US-based Incyte gains access to EP262, a potent, highly selective, once-daily small molecule MRGPRX2 antagonist, and EP547, an oral MRGPRX4 antagonist.

Incyte CEO Hervé Hoppenot said: “As a company dedicated to innovation and the discovery of transformative medicines, we are excited to add EP262 and EP547 to our portfolio.

“This acquisition builds on our strategy to develop differentiated and first-in-class medicines with high potential.”

EP262 blocks MRGPRX2 and degranulation of mast cells to treat mast cell-mediated diseases like atopic dermatitis (AD), chronic inducible urticaria (CIndU), and chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU).

Results from preclinical studies have unveiled EP262`s ability to ameliorate AD-like skin manifestations and markers of type 2 inflammation.

Furthermore, a Phase 1 trial involving 64 healthy participants revealed the asset’s safety and tolerability across all tested doses, with no severe adverse effects.

EP547 blocks the activation of MRGPRX4 by various bile acids, bilirubin, and urobilin. Its Phase 2 PACIFIC study was started in November 2022 to treat subjects with cholestatic pruritus.

Escient Pharmaceuticals president and CEO Joshua Grass said: “These drug candidates are the result of the highly innovative research performed by Escient’s employees and scientific collaborators.

“With its experienced development and commercial teams in Inflammation and Autoimmunity and portfolio of commercial and development stage products, Incyte is well positioned to translate this new science into valuable medicines for patients.”

The deal amount also includes Escient’s remaining net cash at the transaction`s conclusion, subject to standard adjustments.

This acquisition is contingent upon approval under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act and other customary conditions, which is expected in Q3 2024.